The process of selling your old house and moving into a new one can be lengthy and complicated. With this comes anxiety and worry. Here are the main reasons why moving house is stressful – and some tips on how to overcome each one.
Studies have shown that moving house is considered one of the most if not THE most stressful life event the average person goes through.
The stress can manifest as anxiety, lack of sleep, generalised worry, illness, and can last for months (both during the move and afterwards). It’s a huge thing for your mental health to deal with.
While everyone can understand how death or divorce would cause anyones stress level to rise, many of us are caught off guard by just what a stressful thing it can be to move house too.
But what is it that makes moving from one home to another so incredibly stressful?
The Causes Of Moving Stress And Upset
If you find yourself with increased stress levels and on the verge of pulling your own hair out during the moving process, you’re not alone.
Most people feel a similar way when moving home, whether just at the start of the journey, or on moving day itself – and there are several valid reasons for this that we’ll go through here:
#1 – You’re Moving Your Whole Life
When else in life would you go through everything you own, one thing at a time – and make decisions about them?
You have to pack it all up, organise the move, and unpack and settle in at the other end.
Your whole life and its belongings are in limbo for a while, and that can feel unsettling to say the least.
Tips On How To Cope With Moving House Stress
- Plan, plan, and plan again! Know the dates involved, and work backwards so you have a good idea of when you need to start and finish each task. That way you can do things one by one and not feel too overwhelmed.
- As soon as you know you’re going to be moving – start decluttering your stuff. Chances are you have a LOT that you don’t need. Why waste time, energy and money moving things you don’t want in your new home? If you let them go as early in the process as possible, you’re immediately making it easier.
#2 – It’s A Big Change
Our brains are hardwired to be resistant to change, and humans have evolved to view significant changes as threats to our safety and security.
When presented with a huge change such as moving, the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for processing emotional responses) goes into what is commonly known as ‘fight or flight mode’.
This is basically an acute stress response.
The bigger the changes involved in moving house, the more intense your stress response is likely to be.
Moving to a new home across the country, for example, can be significantly more stressful than moving up the road because you’re also dealing with a new area and new people etc…
However, even moving just a few miles away could require additional changes on top of living in a different house, such as registering with a new doctor’s surgery or enrolling your children in a new school.
How To Deal With Changes:
- If you’re moving location, try and visit a few times so you get accustomed to the area a little. Work out where the essentials are, and know the process to register/enroll. If you can do this ahead of the move you’re going to feel less anxious.
#3 – You Need To Make Lots Of Decisions
In addition to fearing change, many of us are very nervous about having to make all those decisions attached to moving house.
Deciding what to have for dinner can be difficult enough, but choosing a new home to move into, where it will be, working out your budget, figuring out what to do with your current house, and picking an estate agent are all big decisions.
For example, choosing a less-than-efficient removals firm could have major consequences on your belongings and finances.
Not to mention all the little decisions that can build up the stress as well. Things like:
- When to do each small thing on the TO DO list – like changing addresses at your suppliers, cancelling things etc…
- Who will show your home to potential buyers (you or the agent)
- What to take with you on move day and what to leave to the removals
- When should you introduce yourself to the new neighbours
Making Decisions Less Stressful
- You can’t be perfect at it all – so learn to delegate some of the decisions to others. If you prioritise the big stuff then the little stuff can fall into place anyway.
- Make decisions quickly, trust your gut, and then move on. You’ll waste a lot of mental energy if you let yourself struggle with each and every choice.
#4 – There Can Be Financial Anxiety
There are a lot of costs involved in moving house, including stamp duty, fees for removals, packing, estate agents, and updating services – all the way through to needing new furniture and things for the new house.
And it can all add up quickly. In fact, in the UK, the average cost of moving house is over £12,000.
That’s a considerable sum of money and can cause many worries about how to pay for it all.
How To Deal With Money Worries When Moving
- Create a budget. List EVERYTHING you will need to spend money on, and work out what it will all cost. Knowing what you face means you can start to make decisions about what’s important, what can be scaled down, and what can wait.
#5 – Feeling Out Of Control
Generally speaking, if you feel that you’re in control of a situation, you are less likely to feel stressed about it.
On the other hand, if elements of the situation feel as though they are out of your control, the stress can quickly begin to pile up.
Unfortunately, no matter how organised you are, there will always be parts of the moving process that are not in your control.
As one of the biggest of all life events, much of your house move will be in the hands of third parties such as mortgage advisors, estate agents, the removal company, and solicitors.
You might have to wait for weeks at a time to hear back about certain queries (waiting can be a source of stress in itself) and paper trails can take a long time to chase up.
Feeling like you’re not in control of a decision as monumental as your house move can be very scary, but unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid relinquishing some of that control.
How To Deal With Loss Of Control WHEN MOVING
- Let go! – To some extent is IS out of your control – so acknowledge the fact that this will happen – which can often alleviate some of the feeling because you’re expecting it to happen.
- Keep communication open with everyone in key roles in your move – so you can get updates when you need them.
#6 – Constant Readiness For Nasty Surprises
No matter how thoroughly you plan the move ahead of time or how well you think you’re prepared for every eventuality, there always seems to be a surprise waiting around the corner.
Whether it’s the surveyor finding a whole host of defects in your existing property that you had no idea about or discovering that your new home has a carefully-concealed mould problem, moving house can often come with some unpleasant shocks.
I’m not saying this to alarm you, but rather, to reinforce that your feelings of stress around moving house are not irrational or unfounded.
There are often unexpected aspects involved in the moving process, and nobody likes feeling like they’re always waiting for the next thing to happen.
How To Cope With The Unexpected
- Have a budget for things that crop up that may need money to sort out. That way you can be safe knowing that you’ve at least got something saved, and if you don’t use it then you can use it later down the line instead!
- Ask friends or a family member who’s moved recently for any stressful experience they had during their own move. You can gain some hindsight from this that may help you with yours.
- Brace yourself. Things will ALWAYS crop up – so you need to allow your mindset to go with the flow a little so that anxiety doesn’t creep in.
- If you can – think about your Plan B for the big stuff. If you’ve already given it some thought then you won’t be blindsided should you need to go there.
Moving house is considered to be the third most stressful event in the average person’s life for a number of reasons.
Mainly, it comes down to a combination of major change, high-stakes decisions, financial stress, lack of control, and unexpected setbacks.
If you are feeling stressed about moving house, know that this is very normal. It’s a really stressful time for everyone.
However, you CAN help yourself stay away from worry by being prepared (use a moving planner to make life easier), hiring reputable professionals to help you, and keeping a positive mindset that all will go OK.
In a few months the move will be a memory, and you’ll be settled in your new place finally!. It will all be worth it in the end…